(RxWiki News) Making small diet improvements over time may lower your risk of dying, according to a new study.
Skipping processed and red meats and adding fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains appeared to lower study participants' risk of dying.
The study authors said this research is the first to evaluate the effect of healthy diet choices over time and mortality risk.
The findings suggest that eating a healthy diet may not have to be all or nothing. Adding healthy habits over time could also help you live longer.
"Our study indicates that even modest improvements in diet quality could meaningfully influence mortality risk and conversely, worsening diet quality may increase the risk," said lead study author Dr. Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, of Ohio University, in a press release.
This study looked at survey data from around 74,000 people over a 12-year period. Just one healthy choice, such as trading one serving of red meat for one serving of beans or another legume, appeared to lower the study participants' risk of dying by 8 to 17 percent, depending on the diet score.
In addition, those who followed a high-quality diet over the 12 year period had a lower risk of death from any cause — compared to those with consistently low diet scores over time.
Don't make any major changes to your diet without first consulting with your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what kind of healthy diet is right for you.
This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The National Institutes of Health and Fundación Alfonso Martin Escudero funded this research. Information on potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.